Proposal would turn some jails, prisons into treatment centers


A former state lawmaker, now the director of probation and parole, wants to send drug and alcohol offenders to treatment instead of prison or jail as part of a broader plan to fight the state’s crime problem.

Cisco McSorley said his pre-filed bill heading to the state legislature this month is a way to not only lower the prison population but to help keep the public safe.

“This is a big step for the department in reducing crime and saving taxpayer money,” he explained.

Before McSorley left his state senator’s seat to take his new state job, he filed the bill that would create a task force to look at the possibility of closing some state prisons and county jails and turn them into treatment facilities for people on probation or parole.

According to the bill, the transition would “address the root cause of crime” to help keep people from re-offending.

He said it would also be a cheaper option than the current $106 a day it costs per inmate in state prison.

“New Mexico, as we all know, is in the midst of huge crime problems, and these crime problems need to be addressed with all the best practices that are evidence-based,” he said.

He cited the success similar programs have had in other states, including Colorado, New York and California.

California, for example, has reportedly saved $100 million.

KRQE News 13 got mixed reactions when talking to people off camera. While many liked the idea, some said drug offenders shouldn’t be given a break by getting to skip time behind bars.

If the task force is created, it would have to present its findings by November to the legislative finance committee.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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